Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Buy Ugly Houses Trademark Dispute

“We Buy Ugly Houses” is the trademark that HomeVestors of America, Inc. registered back in 2001. The company specializes in training franchisees to buy homes, “flip,” and resell the homes. HomeVestors has in subsequent years also registered variations on “We Buy Ugly Houses” such as “We Buy Ugly Houses And Make Them Nice Again” and a Spanish translation “Compramos Casas Feas.”

Since popularizing its slogan, HomeVestors has stayed active in enforcing protection of its federally registered trademark. This includes preventing other real-estate companies from using “We Buy Ugly Houses” or something of that sort on their websites and as a part of their domain names. In the past, HomeVestors, Inc. has succeeded in lawsuits against defendants using domain names such as www.webuyuglyhousesphoenix.com.

Most recently, HomeVestors filed a lawsuit against the House Buyer Network and its CEO Duane LeGate, Inc., which provides a similar service as HomeVestors, Inc. The complaint states that HomeVestors “is known as the WE BUY UGLY HOUSES® people and is the number one buyer of houses in the United States.”

Apparently, the dispute between the two parties stems from a settlement agreement that they entered into in 2006 “whereby LeGate transferred a number of domain names to Plaintiff and whereby LeGate agreed to stop purchasing keywords incorporating the HomeVestors” trademarks. In the lawsuit, HomeVestors claims that LeGate and House Buyers Inc. violated the agreement and infringed on its trademark by continuing to buy Internet advertising keywords that included words similar to HomeVestors’ registered trademarks.